We’re excited to bring the opportunity for amateur runners to take part in the Pyongyang Marathon for the first time in 2014! This race can be run either as a full marathon or as a half marathon. Usually hundreds of local runners take part as well as some elite foreign runners (foreigners have won the last two Pyongyang marathons)
Sunday April 13th, 2014
Starting and finishing in Kim Il Sung Stadium, Pyongyang, DPRK. The Marathon course itself loops around the centre of Pyongyang city.
Koryo Tours are offering this opportunity to anyone joining us on tour at the time the race takes place. We have these group tours taking place at that time;
Anyone taking part in these tours who wants to watch the marathon instead of take part in it is more than welcome to do so. We have attended this marathon several times over the years so know the good places to be to watch. Also local football matches take place in Kim Il Sung stadium after the start of the race, you can be there for this too!
A blog we posted about the Marathon in 2013 can be found here
As all these tours take place over the Marathon date as well as the April 15th national holiday (to mark the 102nd birthday of North Korea’s Eternal President Kim Il Sung) anyone goint to North Korea with us will also gain access to other special events held to mark the occasion, from mass dances, to laces the locals go to hang out, from funfairs to the big events of the day. Trust Koryo Tours’ unrivalled 20 years of experience to responsibly see you safely in, around, and out of North Korea for the trip of a lifetime
If you’d like to take part in this amazing event then please drop us a line email@example.com we have been asked to inform the marathon organisers of the fastest previous marathon or half marathon time of anyone wanting to enter so please send us this information as well.
The only information Koryo Tours has about the allegedly detained US tourist Merrill Newman is that he did not travel through our company. In our 20 years of operation we have never once had any of our tourists detained or arrested. We have three tour groups in Pyongyang at the moment and we continue to operate all tours as usual.
Last month Daniel and Amanda took a trip to the little-visited cities of Haeju and Sinchon, as well as the mountain areas in DPRK’s southwest – read all about their adventures here…
Amanda and Daniel with guides Yong Hee and Won Ik
“We set off south from Pyongyang on the main Pyongyang-Kaesong highway, before branching off to drive through the centre of the city of Sariwon and onto smaller roads through local villages with traditional, low-rise housing in areas rarely seen by foreign eyes. It was hard to believe that we were only an hour’s drive from Pyongyang. We found our way to the beauty spot of Jangsu Mountain, a stunning, dramatic peak overlooking a lake and local hills. A large group of excited children had arrived in a truck and were receiving an explanation from their local guide about the area and the route they would follow, and they all turned to look at us as we stepped out of our modern minibus – it seemed that foreigners were not particularly common visitors to this local sight.
The smaller, rough and ready roads heading towards Jangsu San.
After ascertaining that it would take a mere ten minutes to ascend to the top, we set off for the beautiful-looking pavilion which we could see perched at the top of the path. Our guide informed us this is where the famous Korean film Hong Kil Dong was shot. However, the route turned out to be rather more of a rigorous climb than we had expected – even the local children who had optimistically carried their bikes on their shoulders only got halfway before they were forced to return to the bottom to leave their bikes behind. We managed to clamber our way up to the top and were glad we persevered, as we gained a beautiful view of the local area and the lake beneath, and also had a small tour of this rare example of a hilltop hermitage in the DPRK.
Amanda giving Won Ik a helping hand!
A well-earned view!
From here, we re-joined the main Sariwon-Haeju road and continued to our next outdoor adventure in the form of the Suyangsan Waterfall and Fortress. This is another beautiful spot for hiking and outdoor exploration, consisting of an extremely impressive 120m split waterfall cascading down the sheer cliff face to the path beneath, and the dramatic remains of a fortress built at the time of the Koryo dynasty, which it is possible to hike to from a point halfway up the waterfall and whose ruined walls one can walk along. We continued onwards to the city of Haeju, a little-visited urban centre in the mid-west of the DPRK, and one which sees relatively few foreign visitors, and very few large foreign tour groups. It is, in many ways, a typical regional DPRK city, with socialist-style blocks, large, brutalist public administrative buildings, broad avenues, and a central square with a statue of President Kim Il Sung. There are several features, however, which make it visit-worthy.
The streets of Haeju
Haeju Central Square
There is a set of huge, colourful murals depicting scenes from President Kim Il Sung’s life on the main road into town, some of the most impressive we had seen in any city in the DPRK. The city’s atmosphere, moreover, preserves something of the austere, isolated feel of socialist cities of the 1980s which it is increasingly hard to find in other DPRK cities in the southern part of the country these days; it felt rather like a smaller version of Chongjin, only one which lies a mere three hours’ drive from Pyongyang. The city’s other highlight is the Haeju Hotel, situated right on the central square with an excellent view over to the 1980s socialist-style Revolutionary Museum and the statue of President Kim Il Sung itself, the latter set against a dramatic backdrop of beautiful mountains. We had an early evening walk around this central square. It was quite a bustling place, a hive of local activity, with groups of locals making their way home from work on foot or bicycle, and local children playing on the edges of the large open space.
The next day we slowly made our way back to Pyongyang. Our first stop was the beautiful, tranquil Sokdam Ravine which contains some of the most impressive historical remains in the country outside Kaesong.
The beautiful autumn colours in the countryside around Sinchon
Once we left the Haeju area behind, we made our way up steep hills and through more small villages to the more familiar city of Sinchon, and the powerful Museum of US Atrocities. Our drive back to Pyongyang from Sinchon took us through the spectacular Mt. Kuwol mountain range. A viewpoint at the top provided a wonderful vista of the Mt. Kuwol range on one side, and the land gently sloping down to the Korean West Sea on the other. Our descent took us down towards the sea, and we wound our way along the hills above Nampo port, before crossing the West Sea Barrage from the Kuwol side (most groups usually cross from the Nampo side), overtaking queues of trucks and local buses which were waiting to make their early-evening journeys across. As we crossed the barrage, the last rays of the evening sun disappeared over the Korean West Sea, and we made our way back in evening darkness through central Nampo and from there along the Youth Hero Highway to Pyongyang.
GET READY FOR 2014 – THE YEAR OF BRAND NEW GROUND-BREAKING TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES
2014 sees some amazing new travel opportunities in North Korea, brought to you by the only specialists in DPRK tourism: Koryo Tours. In addition to our usual tours for group and independent travel, after years of negotiation we are pleased to offer a number of new and specialist tours, see below for full details.
But wait, there’s more! We also have permission to plan trips involving long-distance cycling as well as swimming, skateboarding, agricultural-themed tours, so if there’s something you want to do in the DPRK don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Read on for some of the most exciting opportunities we have ever been able to offer and we look forward to hearing from you in 2014!
A brand new tour exclusively for those who have been with us before and want to see some of the newly-opened, little-visited, oft-overlooked, and just-plain-ignored parts of Pyongyang and beyond. Read on >
Explore this rarely-visited part of the DPRK, parts of which only opened up to western tourists in 2013… Read on >
Hiking & Camping
Scale the heights of some of the most iconic mountains in the DPRK, and be the first tourists ever to spend a couple of nights sleeping out in tents under the stars in these unspoiled areas…. Read on >
A stunning new travel opportunity that crosses North Korea overland by train from Pyongyang all the way to the rarely-visited East and North-East Coast, and the major industrial city of Chongjin… Read on >
Magadan | Abandoned Russia
Our biggest, baddest, sexiest, most abandoned, and most adventurous Russia tour yet, something to race the pulses and raise the temperatures of even the most hardened traveler… Read on >
Architecture | April 2014
An architectural and historical journey through North Korea’s socialist development with access to many buildings not usually open to tourist groups: Read on >
The untouched side of Russia on East Siberia’s most isolated territory – reindeers, horses, 4WDs and helicopters…
Two opportunities in 2014 to see DPRK from the saddle. The September tour will also include hiking and camping…Read on >
Pyongyang International Film Festival
We’ve just had confirmation from our partners in Pyongyang that the Pyongyang International Film Festival will be taking place from September 17th to 24th 2014! If you’re interested in submitting a film for consideration please email firstname.lastname@example.org
AP photographer David Guttenfelder has been getting lots of attention recently for his well-deservedly mega popular instagram account which features many photographs from inside North Korea. But David’s not the only one instagramming from inside the Hermit Kingdom - as regular travellers to the country some of our team have Koryolink 3G sim cards and so can post #livefromnorthkorea, others take their best pics and post them as #latergrams. Check out the best pics from Hannah, Simon, Vicky, Christopher and Amanda and then share your favourite instagrams inside DPRK with us. Tag your North Korean snaps with #koryotours and the best will win a Koryo Tours goody bag! (Closing date Dec 1st)
ETHNO-TOURISM: RUSSIA’S MOST ISOLATED ETHNIC GROUP TO WELCOME FOREIGNERS
A new ground-breaking tour from Koryo Tours! (Jun 30 – Jul 13, 2014)
In the untouched Taiga region of East Siberia’s most isolated territory, Tofalaria, lives one of the smallest ethnic minorities in the world; the “Tofa” people, who are also known as the ancient nomadic reindeer herders of Asia. Koryo Tours are proud to announce a new partnership to assist the Tofa people in welcoming tourists to visit their isolated region and learn about their land, people and culture.
To help the Tofa people preserve their ancient way of life, traditional culture, and natural existence, Koryo Tours and its local partner, along with the Irkutsk Regional Association of Indigenous People and Siberia Land Congress, have been working on tours and projects to establish eco-parks within Tofalaria. The project aims to create jobs for the Tofa people based on their traditional way of living through the development of sustainable tourism. Using eco- and ethno-tourism we to plan to help re-establish the Northern reindeer population whilst learning about its people and culture.
For the Tofa people, reindeer herding is not just work, it is a traditional pattern of behaviour that determines the herdsmen’s life. Reindeer herding is based on igun and anai - the principles of love and understanding of one’s reindeer, as well as a devotion to the nomadic lifestyle – this is the way it had been for many centuries.
We will access this isolated region by helicopter and Army 4-WD truck and once there, will traverse this pristine landscape by horseback - and for those who feel comfortable enough,by riding reindeer. Join Koryo Tours for this unique and immersive travel experience to visit the Tofa people, travel the region and learn about their way of life.
This Friday brings in a bit of architectural and design innovation – maybe a new idea on how to give your living room that long needed extension! A new mini-lounge perhaps? Where can you find something similar? Adding some extra space was created nicely with this picture though
TURKMENISTAN 2014 – Amazing Central Asian Adventure
Join us on a Central Asian adventure unlike anything offered anywhere else! In 2014 Koryo Tours is offering two very different but equally amazing itineraries in the mysterious and unique country of Turkmenistan – the region’s least visited and least-known but most fascinating country – come with us and we will show you this remarkable country – the history, weirdness, amazing scenery, giant flaming pits, and much much more!
Our first tour of the year will take place in May 2014 – We’ll see the highlights of Ashgabat; a city best described as a melange of Las Vegas, Dubai, and Pyongyang! Including the world’s largest indoor Ferris Wheel, some of the monuments that mark the different areas of the city, the old town itself where sleepy tree-lined streets merge into marble-clad mega-boulevards built in the gas-funded ‘golden age’ (as the government calls the 21st Century). We’ll see giant bazaars and all the local colour on display, see the sacred Ahal-Teke horses at the races and at a stud farm, we’ll travel up to the Caspian Sea coast to see the oldest city in the country; Turkmenbashi (formerly Krasnavodsk) as well as the newest (the massive and bizarre beach resort complex of Avaza). And we’ll travel deep into the desert for a night of camping next to the Darvaza Gas Crater; the ‘Mouth of Hell’ the simply the most amazing place you will ever have the chance to sleep next to and stare deep into – is like nowhere else on earth! All this and a swim in a lake 100m below the surface of the Earth as well!
Our Second tour for 2014 takes place from late September to early October and will take a more land-based route around the country. For this tour we also hit all the highlights of Ashgabat and head into the interior of the country for a look at local life as well as the night next to the giant gas crater (unmissable, one of the truly unique things you can do in your life). We’ll also drive on to the Northern city of Dashoguz and the nearby UNESCO world heritage site of Konye-Urgench; a stunning series of ruins of an ancient Silk Road settlement ravaged by Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, and other warriors that lend colour to the complicated history of this area. We’ll see the famed Ahal-Teke hordes ride in races and at a farm and then travel on the Yangykala Canyon, a stunning natural area akin to the more well-known Grand Canyon. Little-visited and almost unknown to outsiders this area offers truly remarkable views and an amazing experience exploring, taking photos, looking out for local wildlife, and experiencing something almost no tourists to this country ever get to see. We’ll even have time to hit the Caspian Sea resort of Azava for a quick explore before heading back to Ashgabat to finish the tour. An exhausting but exhaustive trip to this amazing country, you’ll have stories enough for a lifetime in just a week!
So for more information on the tours we are offering in 2014 please have a look at ourTurkmenistan website.
If you have any questions please drop us a line on email@example.com and we are certainly happy to hear from you at any time.
We hope you can join us on one of these amazing trips, if you have been to North Korea with us before you know the kind of tours we run; the best balance of learning about the local way of life, culture, history, and so on combined with as much fun as it is possible to have in these countries, the deepest connections with the locals and a journey you will remember for the rest of our life; come along with us and try it out!
Travel by train across North Korea from Pyongyang to Chongjin!
Koryo Tours is proud to announce a new stunning travel opportunity that crosses North Korea overland by train from Pyongyang all the way to the rarely-visited East and North-East Coast, and the major industrial city of Chongjin. As this area was previously only accessible from Pyongyang by a special charter flight, you will be the first foreigners to experience the spectacular scenery between the capital and the remote North-East Coast. Itinerary >>
Travelling this route by train has never been possible before!
The long journey northwards from Hamhung to Chongjin will reveal entire parts of the country never before seen by foreign eyes, as our train meanders its way through remote mountains and along the pristine coastline of the DPRK’s far North East, stopping at as-yet-undiscovered cities such as Sinpho and Kimchaek and passing by isolated beaches.
This special tour also includes full tourist itineraries in all the cities of the East and North East of the country. In Wonsan we will have a tour of (amongst other sights) the port area, main square and beach, in Hamhung we will visit the retro fertiliser factory, history museum and main square, and in Chongjin we will take a break from the usual tourist hotel and lodge instead at the centrally located Chonmasan Hotel. We will also visit the industrial city’s newly-opened foodstuffs factory, as well as seeing all the other sites in the city open to foreign tourists, including a local bar, the Fisherman’s Club, for evening refreshment!
We will be travelling in vintage 1970s carriages with Korean diesel locomotives and fully-functioning restaurant car, and will be the first foreign tour group to travel overnight by train within the DPRK, as we make our way non-stop back from Chongjin to Pyongyang at the end of the trip. As a final bonus, we will take a ride on a local tram and trolleybus in Pyongyang on the final afternoon, rounding off what will be a truly ground-breaking tour!
This tour will be run at the time of May Day celebrations, the very best time of the year to mingle with local people and take part in folk festivals held to mark this occasion, one of the biggest national holidays in the Socialist world. This tour is designed for those who enjoy intercity adventure travel by rail, and would suit anyone with an interest in a new and exciting new way to travel around and discover uncharted regions of North Korea.